The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Vibrant Downtown McAllen TX

McAllen has tons of nice places to shop in shopping centers and malls scattered throughout the city. But McAllen also has something you don't see that often anymore, a vibrant downtown area. In so many cities, the downtown areas dry up as the shopping centers and malls spring up with their free parking lots. Or the downtown area is saved via conversion to a business/office area rather than a shopping area.  I was told that was not the case here in McAllen.

So I set out to visit Historic Downtown McAllen on Sunday afternoon. 

It wasn't hard to find.....just look for Main St. not too far north of Hwy 83.  It's one-way going north with angle parking. I knew that angle parking in a crowded area was probably not the best place for my big F-250 longbed truck so I did a preliminary drive through to just get the flavor and see how extensive the downtown actually was.  It stretched for a number of blocks before opening out into a more residential area. I made a left turn and then another left to travel down the parallel street, more shopping.  The angle parking on this street ended after two blocks and converted to parallel parking and a wider street and I found a convenient place to pull in.....bonus, metered parking on Sunday is free. Actually it's a double bonus as you don't have to pay but you also don't have to worry about going back to feed the meter!  This is indeed an old-fashioned downtown with one story buildings. There were lots of people strolling along checking out the shops, old and young, families in tow. My friend Sue told me there were bargains to be found in the several fabric shops. Prices looked great.

This is definitely an Hispanic jewel, similar to shopping across the border in Mexico; however, there are no street vendors. Most of the stores seemed geared to the party scene.  There were many perfume stores and stores to buy quinceanera dresses, party gowns, and wedding dresses. Dresses are every color of the rainbow. I took this photo in a store before I was approached by an Asian clerk who said pictures were not allowed.  I apologized and didn't take any more inside although there were no signs anywhere.  I also noticed that a man and teenaged boy were told to wait outside (no loitering) although they were obviously with a woman and daughter who were shopping in the store.

There were also a number of stores like Michael's only these were jam-packed with merchandise for parties of every kind and artificial flowers.  Remember all the flowers in the cemetery?

There also a number of stores buying gold. On the left of this photo, you can see Boot Jack. This was one of the upscale kind of stores you would find in an expensive mall.

I tried to get photos between groups of shoppers and cars but there really were a lot of people out and about.

I sat on a bench in the shade next to La Placita, a Museum of History and Culture to do some people watching. Unfortunately, it was closed. I was joined by a mother and four of her six children while her husband and two of the oldest boys went into the perfume shop next door.  The oldest three were boys, each with their own unique haircut, and the three youngest were girls all with long hair. Two had curls. The youngest was about three and just adorable. She came over several times to get quite close and give me a big smile.  All the kids were really well behaved and polite. Most of the talk on the streets was in Spanish or Spanglish but I never heard this young family use anything but English.

This building almost looked like it was transplanted from New Orleans.  This multi-colored building next door is more typical.

I parked in front of this store which was closed. I don't imagine the young lady wearing the beautiful puffy gown on the right would ever get to sit down.

All in all, it was a fun experience and a big part of life and culture in the Rio Grande Valley. Winter Texans really are welcomed down here. Many even have little decals or signs on their cars or trucks. You will find visitors from every part of Canada and state in the U.S. that call this area home in the cold winter months up north. Some have been coming for many years, traveling in their RVs to get here. Others leave their RVs here or have park model homes in the hundreds and hundreds of RV parks.

On a parting note, the Traveling Longdogs are quite comfortable in their RV. Willy pulled a pillow down, and covered himself with a blanket, and is clearly telling me to go away, he needs a nap.


  1. Great photos! And I love the one of Willy. I wish I could get Katie to go under the covers by herself, but she needs me to hold them up so she can scoot under. :)

  2. The Mexican/Spanish love the bright colors. And they do know how to party. Willy looks so comfy and sooo cute.

  3. Willy is such a good doxie. Can't figure out why you could not take any photos inside that fabric store.


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